Lenovo ended last week by announcing a computer guaranteed not to have any spyware pre-installed on it – the firm’s new N21 Chromebook.
Normally, a new Chromebook would be a mere detail for the world’s largest PC maker but with humiliation of having to apologise for and clean the Superfish spyware from user’s Windows PCs in mind, the firm was in need of some neutral news.
The phenomenon of PC bloatware doesn’t affect Chromebooks because it can’t affect Chromebooks. Manufacturers could, in theory, install unwanted Chrome OS apps but there are so few of these anyway that the chances of a Superfish sneaking through are currently small. Unlike PCs, apps are also incredibly easy to spot and can be de-installed in seconds.
The specification for the N21 is standard for recent Chromebooks bar the fact it features a more rugged design meant to stand up to use in the crucial US schools sector that makes up two third of the platform’s sales.
Lenovo claims the machine will withstand a desk-height drop of up to 70cm (just over 2 feet), while the screen hinges have been reinforced to withstand constant opening and closing. The keyboard is water-resistant with ‘anti-peel’ keys while the built-in front webcam can be rotated relative to the screen angle for better viewing.
Otherwise it has Intel’s Celeron N2840 dual core processor, 2GB or 4GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD, an 11.6 inch HD LED screen, with a weight of 1.27 kg (2.8 lbs). Battery life is the now standard eight to nine hours. There are two USB ports, one USB 2.0 and second USB 3.0, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Available in late March, the base N21 will cost $219 in the US, with the 4GB version costing $239. This might translate into £189 and £209 when the N21 eventually reaches the UK, probably later in the spring.
Earlier this month, Dell announced its new Chromebook 11 with the same ruggedised education theme, featuring stronger hinges and the reported option of Corning Gorilla Glass covering the screen. This followed a similar model from Acer, the C740, also featuring Intel’s new Broadwell-U line of Celeron processors. One day soon all Chromebooks might be made like this.